After going winless in the FAU Kick-Off Classic, the Massachusetts softball team bounced back with wins against Illinois State and Southern Illinois and finished with a 2-3 overall record in last weekend’s NFCA Leadoff Classic
“They are obviously two very quality wins against two very good teams,” UMass coach Elaine Sortino said.
UMass lets go of early lead, falls to UCF
Although UMass led Sunday afternoon’s game against Central Florida early on, the Knights came out victorious, 8-2, at the Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex in Clearwater, Fla.
After holding UCF (9-7) in the top of the first, Cyndil Matthew and Quianna Diaz-Patterson started the UMass bats with two singles in the bottom of the first. Katie Bettencourt laid down a sacrifice bunt, allowing both runners to advance into scoring position, and both Matthew and Diaz-Patterson scored on errors made by the Knights, giving the Minutewomen a 2-0 lead.
However, UCF battled back in the fourth, scoring four runs, two of which were on errors.
Caroline Raymond started on the mound for UMass, pitching five innings and striking out four. Emma Mendoker closed for the Minutewomen.
“With Emma, location and distributing the ball into various parts of the zone becomes a little bit more important in her movement,” Sortino said.
UM beats Southern Illinois
UMass rallied in the fourth inning Saturday to win 4-3 over Southern Illinois.
The Salukis (7-8) opened the game with three runs in the first inning, but in the fourth, Diaz-Patterson and Bettencourt got the bats going with a single and a double, respectively, for the Minutewomen.
The next two batters walked and then Taylor Carbone’s double tied the game at 3-3. Later, Anna Kelley grounded out, but she was able to get an RBI, which made the score 4-3.
Bridget Lemire got her first win for the Minutewomen on the mound.
Minutewomen get first win of season
Earlier Saturday morning, UMass captured its first win of the season with a 4-3 victory over Illinois State.
Junior Tiffany Meeks hit a three-run home run in the top of the third to propel the Minutewomen to a 4-1 lead. Earlier, Meeks delivered an RBI double, bringing in Diaz-Patterson, who walked.
The Minutewomen had a total of six hits and one error in the contest.
Illinois State was not far behind UMass, scoring on a walk and Carbone’s failure to make a double play at the plate.
In the circle, Raymond earned her first win and finished with five strikeouts.
“With Caroline, you have a little bit more speed and her ability to get the ball by you,” Sortino said.
UMass drops another game to Indiana
Despite having an early lead, UMass dropped its game against Indiana, 5-1, on Friday.
The Minutewomen led 1-0 going into the bottom of the second, yet the Hoosiers (10-5) came back immediately with a home run from Kelsey Dotson.
Later in the fourth, Indiana delivered another home run, increasing its lead to 3-1. By the bottom of the sixth, the Hoosiers led 5-1.
UMass did not take advantage of its scoring opportunities, leaving two runners in scoring position in the top of the third and failing to be in scoring position for the rest of the game.
Minutewomen fall to Pacific
The start to UMass’ game against Pacific foreshadowed its end. Starting the game with nine consecutive outs offensively over three innings, the Minutewomen lost to Pacific 9-0 in six innings.
The Tigers (7-3) scored a total of five runs in the first two innings and added two in the fifth and sixth innings as well.
UMass got its first hit in the top of the fourth with a base hit from Matthew. Diaz-Patterson followed with a single, but the Minutewomen ended the inning with the bases loaded.
Mendoker had three strikeouts on the mound for UMass.
With it still very early in the season, Sortino noted that the team must minimize their defensive errors and work on every aspect of the game.
“That (good defense) has got to be constant,” Sortino said. “I think that our lack of consistency to make the routine play puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on us throughout the game.”
A strong offense is also crucial, Sortino said.
“Obviously, everybody needs to make a contribution,” she said. “Some people did consistently well but for the most part, I think we need to have offensive consistency.”
Next up, the Minutewomen will head to Tampa, Fla., for the USF Under Armour Showcase on March 8.
Kaitlin Boyer can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @Kaitlin_Boyer.